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Big Snow Mountain

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Big Snow Mountain

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 47.53528°N / 121.3658°W

Object Title: Big Snow Mountain

Activities: Hiking

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 6680 ft / 2036 m

 

Page By: gimpilator

Created/Edited: Aug 17, 2006 / Mar 28, 2016

Object ID: 216509

Hits: 17411 

Page Score: 95.85%  - 57 Votes 

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Overview

Big Snow West Face
Big Snow West Face

Big Snow Mountain is located in the beautiful Alpine Lakes wilderness. It is a big mountain with notable height, surrounded by beautiful lakes and tarns. Summit views of surrounding peaks like Daniel, Overcoat, Summit Chief, Lemah, Burnt Boot, Thomson  and more are spectacular! The north slope is made up of beautiful glacial scoured granite slab and rock. The slab holds pockets of snow late into the season. Large and small tarns alike sprinkle the whole north slope.  These slabs are one of the main attractive features which inspire local hikers to make the trek.

Big Snow Summit Panorama
Big Snow Summit Panorama

The east face and east buttress has steep walls that drop down into lower Hardscrabble Lake.  Technical climbing can be found there.  These features are not visible from any road in the area. In fact, the whole peak is quite remote, but it does share a south ridge with Mount Price and a northeast ridge with Wild Goat Peak.  Despite it's remoteness, it is a fairly popular scramble (for those who know the area) but not as popular as the nearby I-90 peaks.  It's likely that the first ascent was made by a group of Mountaineers on July 20, 1917.

Routes Overview

Big Snow Routes Map
Big Snow Routes Map

There are two standard approaches for this peak. The east ridge (Hardscrabble route) is easier and less confusing, but the Middle Fork Road has been gated at Dingford Creek so it's now 25 miles round-trip.  The north slope (Dingford route) is less distance but involves serious route finding and bushwhacking depending on snow conditions.

Big Snow Mtn, NE shoulder
Above Upper Hardscrabble Lake

East ridge / Hardscrabble route: 25 miles total but 8 miles round trip up from the road, 4000+' gain, class 2 scramble with some route finding.   It might be advisable to bring a bike for the road portion.  The trail starts a half mile short of the end of Middle fork road.  This access trail can be found right across the road from a large fallen log.  From the lower lake head east and ascend a climbers path to upper Hardscrabble Lake. Stay on the path, ascending through forest and keeping near the inlet to the lake. If one goes too far to the left you will run into cliff bands. From there, the climb begins up a gully to a col. From the col, drop down onto the open granite slab of the north slope. Follow the east ridge to the summit. This is the preferred route to the summit, and will require an overnight for all except the hardiest of souls.

Big Snow Summit
Upper East Ridge

North slope / Dingford route: 12-13 miles round-trip and 5280 feet of gain, class 2-3 with route finding. Approach from Dingford creek trail to Myrtle Lake. Ascend to Big Snow Lake making use of steep gullies. Traverse right around Snowflake Lake, then ascend to the summit. This route is now the shortest, but certainly not easiest to puzzle out.  Failed attempts and running out of time is somewhat common on this route.

East Buttress
The East Buttress
Non standard routes for consideration:

*East buttress: Grade III class 5.7 first ascent by Don Williamson and Jeff Dial May 11, 1971

*South ridge: ascend from Middle Fork Snoqualmie River road; route finding and bushwhack.

*Southwest ridge: ascend from Hester Lake trail; route finding and bushwhack.

Getting There

Nearing The Top
Nearing The Top

From Seattle, take I-90 to exit 34 in North bend. Take 468th Ave for about .6 mile. Turn right on Middle Fork road. At about 1 mile stay to the left at a now closed fork in the road. Continue for another 1.5 or so until the road turns to dirt. This is FS RD 56.  Drive about 10 miles, cross a bridge, and take a right. You will go about 6.5 miles until you come to another gate. This is the Dingford trailhead and gate, the jumping off point for the Myrtle Lake route, and also now the end of the public access road. For the east ridge route, hike or ride bicycle 7 miles further.  Watch for the giant broken log in the road which is right accross from the Hardscrabble Lakes access trail.  This parking area is a half mile from the road's end at Dutch Miller trailhead.

Camping / Red Tape

Camping is great at any of the lakes, just keep in mind the impact you are making while camping. A campground is located at the beginning of Middle Fork River road.

The granite
 Granite Slabs

There is no NW Forest Pass required at this trailhead.

When to climb

Normally climbed late spring to fall. Winter ascents are possible with access being ok for winter. North slope route would make for a good ski run. One must be mindful of avalanche conditions and hazards if climbing during winter.

Maps, External Links, Guide Books

Thomson North Face
Mount Thomson as viewed from Big Snow Mountain


USGS Big Snow Mountain & Green Trails #175 Skykomish Wa

Cascade Alpine Guide 1. Columbia River to Stevens Pass by Fred Beckey
Climbing Washington's Mountains by Jeff Smoot

Memorial Page

This page is dedicated to my friend and fellow SP member Ed Miller who died in a fall on the south route of Formidable August 7th 2006.  6 days later a large group made the first memorial hike to the summit of Big Snow to place a travelling summit register.  See the signatures in Ed's travelling summit register.

Images